Saturday, 10 September 2011

The beginning of my Journey in HK

I'm glad that I finally have a moment to sit down and unwind from my arrival and - i guess you could call it - 'introduction' to Hong Kong (HK) and the lifestyle it offers.  I'll keep everything in subheadings so it'll be easy to read...

Arrival into HK

Unlike most of the exchange students, I did quite a bit of traveling around Asia with my dad prior to starting my semester in Hong Kong.  Most students arrived by plane, whereas I was in Singapore, Malaysia, Macau then Hong Kong.  Macau was my last 'holiday' destination and then I arrived by Ferry into the HK port.  The trip itself is very close to 1 hour and is a fantastic way to arrive into the harbour.  To this day, I think I took for granted just how amazing the weather was the first 3-4 day since my arrival.  Clear blue skies, and dramatic sunsets.  Unfortunately, it has been hazy since.  Either it is less humid, or I'm finally beginning to adjust to it.  Either way, of course you may find it's better to find a change of clothes and 'freshen up'.  It just means you probably have to do twice as much laundry, but it's totally worth it!  Since my arrival, I have found it difficult to communicate back to Australia as I'm always out.  Yes, that's right...  Breakfast, lunch, dinner and usually still walking around doing activities with hall mates and other friends (even up to 3am...).  It's probably not the best lifestyle (i'm very aware of that) but some things you just have to accept.  I do notice my hall mates (and myself) enjoy sleeping in and then running down to University, just to step in at 11:01a.m.!

Arrival to Hong Kong University (HKU)

Apart from the fact that students are stressing due to the add/drop period at Univerity, all in all, it's a fabulous campus.  Many of us complain about the location of the University because it is very high up in the mountains.  Not the highest mountains, mind you, but they sure are steep!  I don't think I'll ever walk down to the harbour, as the buses and taxis are cheap and extremely efficient.  

Transport

The last sentence brings me to the public transport.  The only thing that has been circling my mind for the last few weeks is:  Why is Australia (apparently a very 'well-developed' country...) behind in such infrastructure?  The government pumps millions of dollars into research, (feasibility studies) where it could be spending this for actual building and development (let alone helping the starving people on our streets).  What seems ironic is that (i'm yet to discover if this is completely true) Australia is helping in the production of the HK MTR (trains).  Why then has it been so hard to implement this in our country?  It's not only Australia, many other countries face this too.  Nonetheless, the point that remains is that Hong Kong as a city 'works' because not only has the government helped to develop such an amazing and well-integrated network, but citizens help it flow because they know how to live, walk and talk efficiently.  Weather it rains or shines, the MTR is alive, running and almost always on time…

Weather

Speaking of raining and shining, as I mentioned a little earlier, HK’s weather was beautiful at the start.  I do regret I didn’t see enough mountain views or visit enough beaches, but I can safely say that I’ve seen a LOT!  I do hope the weather will pick up, and hopefully no typhoons will come to the city.  Although, it would be interesting to see how the city reacts to such an event. 

Friendships

Arriving at HKU in the first day or two seemed a little daunting.  Stepping into my hall, there was quite a bit of paperwork to fill out and plenty of ‘deposits’ to put down for the strangest of things ie. An airconditioning card.  The idea is that you ‘buy credits’ by paying the office cash.  These credits are literally stored on a plastic card and then inserted into a little machine in our rooms.  In other words, you get as much as you pay for.  Strange system, I know, but it seems to work.  The only problem is that when it’s the weekend, the office is shut and you have to wait until Monday morning.  Here, locals freak out when this happens.  They live with airconditioning on 24/7, and HK air-conditioning seems the coldest around…  It is really freezing!  I’m still getting used to sleeping in VERY cold aircon.  How this section went from ‘friends to aircon’…. Haha…. Let’s get back on track, why don’t we!!!  Ok, so the hall is great and there is a good mix of locals and internationals staying in my hall.  Apparently 30% of this hall consists of exchange students – I’m yet to prove that statistic to be true…   Although, you do seem to meet a new person every day or two…  My hall mates are very nice.  When I first arrived, I only got smiles and I was under the impression that they didn’t speak much english.  I gave them a week or so and they spoke better english than some of the kids back home (jokes, jokes…) but I got a bit of a shock.  I was further amused when lectures started and they actually began contributing!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  Some of them are SUPER fluent!!!  They’re like another person altogether…
Ofcourse, being an exchange/international student means that you generally stick to other internationals.  I always wondered why the international students in my high school and Melbourne University stick so close together.  Finally, I can say that I understand their situation completely!  You can relate, you can speak your language 24/7 and you have many things in common.  That’s not to say that we all hang around in the same group everyday, but you form small ‘going out’ groups.  In general, all of the internationals are nice.  All of the people I’ve met are great friends.  It’s all about friendships… Actually, I think it’s starting to become:  It’s going to be all about study… after sitting through several lectures.

Food

The food is an experience itself!  You can’t complain about not being able to eat in HK.  If you do:  Shame on you!  Food is on every corner, and when you in the city, food is at every 2nd door.  International food, asian food – whatever tickles your taste buds – you name it, it’s yours!  Sure, there is some wild stuff here that I’d never try, but if you’re brave enough – go for it!  With pricing, it really depends.  Mostly, it’s extremely affordable (or for those who prefer this term: CHEAP!).  You can also experience expensive food, but to be honest – a $2-5AUD meal can sometimes be better than a $3-500 one…  It’s your choice really.

What's ahead?

This is a good question.  Living such a busy life in HK, you sometimes wonder – what will I be doing in a month or two?  A lot of it is playing it by ear, ie. Taking each day as it comes.  Weather is one factor that can restrict you (obviously) but last minute difficulties – such as class registrations can also leave you wondering whether the class you take now, will be the one you end up studying for the rest of the semester.  That may seem strange, but many, (including myself) have already been ‘rejected’ for some classes.  It’s been a mystery to us all, and the departments have been very unclear when trying to explain it.  You just have to cross your fingers, remain calm but talk firmly to the faculties.  It’s frustration I’ll admit, and I certain others are feeling this after talking to them.

The semester will pass quickly and who knows, maybe that’s when my next blog post will be (hopefully not), but I hope to do some travelling here and there.  There are some plans still in the pipeline, but for now it’s heads down into the books.  Oh, how I wish that was true haha :P  Life’s too short living amongst a stack of books and pens.

It’s been wild, it’s been random and it will continue to be busy.  All that I’m grateful is that I have a wonderful group of friends, floor mates and some lecturers (read: some…).
I promise to keep you updated, please feel free to comment on this blog page and ask questions!

For now, I’ll leave you with some photos from a tour we went on.   Hope you like them :P


 A place with bird fanatics...
 Yes, they really do love their birds.  But it's a wonderful thing!  Good on them...


 Ummm... Guys, I'm sorta' stuck here...


 Whether it rains or shines, all umbrellas will be out.  Though I sort of think the umbrella was a bit of an 'excuse' don't you think ;)
 Lean on me...  Was just too cute not to photograph :P
 A few photos of temples.  Unfortunately we could enter any!





 Yes..., that was a restaurant!  Although, there was glass...
Another temple


 The reflection was too good to resist.  Shame the whole road was not covered in water :(

Thanks to our wonderful tour-guide, many new friendships were made :D



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